Southern Cross JUNE-JULY 2023

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SouthernCross

HOW TO HAVE MINISTRIES THAT WELCOME PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY

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THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR SYDNEY ANGLICANS JUNE–JULY 2023

A real welcome for people with disability

I have a confession to make: until recently, I thought I had a pretty good handle on issues of accessibility at church.

Mentally totting up what was needed and important, I sat down with the accessibility guidelines created for the Sydney Diocese by disability advocate and former principal of Mary Andrews College, Dr Louise Gosbell, and started to read. And discovered that I was woefully under-informed.

Perhaps you also feel that you and your church are doing disability access well. Or perhaps it’s something you haven’t thought much about. Either way, you may well find there is a whole raft of issues and disability needs that have never occurred to you.

ONE CHURCH AT A TIME

The rector of Minchinbury, the Rev Mike Smith, says his parish is “very much committed to ensuring our property and our programs – our entire ministry footprint – is accessible and inclusive to everybody, but we’re still only at the early stage of implementing changes.

“I remember that the committee we established took [parish

council] through our bathrooms with a wheelchair, and we had to sit in the wheelchair and try to make our way through and use the facilities. It’s not until you are actually in, for want of a better phrase, the shoes of a person with mobility constraints that you understand the difficulties of accessing even basic facilities. It was a real eye-opener.”

The committee Mr Smith mentions is recommended in Dr Gosbell’s book, Everyone Welcome – Accessible Church for All, which takes a church step-by-step through processes to identify the needs of members and any shortfalls in programs, ministry or physical property that might hinder them – or others in the community – from being comfortable at church.

Says Dr Gosbell: “What I often hear is that people want to be more inclusive but don’t know how to do that, or where to start. So, I was keen to help people really think about those essential steps that churches could take towards having better inclusive practices.

“There has been a very positive response, which is exciting. People are glad, firstly, to have a resource that they can go to, to

SouthernCross June-July 2023

volume 29 number 4

have questions answered. Even something like, ‘What is large print – how big is it?’ Or, ‘Where do I get an Auslan interpreter from?’

“I’ve been involved in disability in an academic way, and involved in practical ministry with people with disability, for 20 years, so I was able to tap into the significant network I have developed to be able to reach out to people and have discussions.

“People were really keen to contribute because they saw the merit in being able to have their own stories and experiences contribute towards something to potentially make it easier for the next family or person as they come into the church community.”

The guidelines begin with the seven forms of impairment and medical condition covered by the Disability Discrimination Act, as

Publisher: Anglican Media Sydney

well as a theology of disabilityinclusive ministry (see next page). What then follows is an in-depth consideration of what a disability-inclusive church looks like and how our attitudes, communication and physical spaces can welcome people in, or make them feel less valued.

For example, are our programs set up to cater for those on the autism spectrum, or with mental health struggles? Can people with hearing impairments follow the service? Are less mobile congregation members able to stand, sit and move around comfortably? Can everyone safely access all parts of the site? Does your church’s website detail its accessibility for anyone planning to attend?

Dr Gosbell acknowledges there is a lot to consider, which is why she recommends each church create an inclusion committee. This way all the work doesn’t

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Much easier: Kevin Spencer uses an updated disability car space at church.
cover image: Jesus Club’s Big Day In at Castle Hill. photo: Melisa Ng.
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fall on the senior minister or leadership team, and people with lived experience of disability can take part in sharing knowledge, facilitate a parish survey to ask for feedback and insights, and make recommendations to parish council.

EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT DISABILITY

Kevin Spencer, who has been in a wheelchair since a motorbike accident at the age of 19, is a member of Minchinbury’s inclusion committee. He says making plans in response to their findings “gives you targets to achieve. Any change takes time and is hard to accomplish, and that might be frustrating for people who require the facilities, but then it’s more of a groundswell of people moving along together.”

His wife Elizabeth, who heads the committee, adds simply: “It’s a matter of educating people – especially the decisionmakers. It really required a humility on the part of those who make the decisions to say, ‘I haven’t experienced any form of disability – or this form of disability – but I will seek the input of those who have, and who are, and act accordingly’.”

Minchinbury’s parish survey provided a number of helpful insights for Mike Smith, including the observation that, while the church was “reasonably accessible and inclusive”, its response to issues in the past has not been proactive.

“It’s good to acknowledge those things,” he says. “Yes, we have people with disability in our church, but that doesn’t mean that we are as inclusive and accessible as we want to be. They feel welcome, but you’re not doing the best you can do.”

Some changes – such as more accessible toilets – will take time because of the cost. However, the parish has made a number of alterations since late last year, including creating accessible parking spaces of a more appropriate size, with loading zones; replacing round door handles with levers, which are easier to use; and sourcing adjustable-height seats for less mobile parishioners.

The children’s and youth leaders have been trained in Key Word Sign, which uses basic Auslan to help communicate better with kids who are nonverbal. Changes have also been made, where needed, to the language used up the

front – with, for example, the encouragement to stand for a song altered to “please stand if you’re able to”.

IS IT WORTH IT?

Says Dr Gosbell: “Some might say, ‘I reckon that sounds like a lot of work... and why would I do that for a small minority of the church community?’ But 17 per cent of the Australian population lives with some kind of disability... so whether you realise it or not, you have people with disability in your churches, and you may never have realised the barriers that exist to those people being part of the church community.

“The statistics are that the average person in the Western world will spend at least eight years of their life with a disability, so that means disability is an inevitable part of our human experience. For the most part, we are not proactive in thinking about opportunities [but] changes that we make to accommodate people with disability are beneficial for everyone.

“Yes, putting in a ramp is expensive, but it isn’t just for wheelchair users! It could be used by someone with reduced

A THEOLOGICAL BASIS FOR DISABILITY-INCLUSIVE MINISTRY

All people are created in God’s image

The Scriptures are clear that human beings are still those “made in God’s image” even after the Fall, and that this ought to shape our conduct towards one another (Gen 9:6; Jas 3:9). This means that our value as human beings cannot be measured by our physical or intellectual abilities or lack thereof but is something given with our membership of the human species.

All people need salvation

The message of salvation is not limited to those who are ablebodied, but to all people, irrespective of physical or intellectual abilities or disabilities. However, the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation estimates that only five-to-10 per cent of the global population of people with disability are reached with the gospel... Part of our task in response to the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) should be ensuring the gospel is also brought to people living with disability and their families.

All people have the capacity for relationship with God

God created human beings to live in relationship with him, with others, and with the created world. While sin fractured and

mobility – someone with crutches, mums with prams, or when you have to unload all the books for the church bookshop. When we make the print larger on our handouts or power points, or install clearer signage around the church, that’s not just for people who are vision impaired. It’s helpful for newcomers or English-as-a-second-language participants.

“Changes you make are not just for that 17 per cent... When we think intentionally about disability, we actually will benefit the broader church community as well.”

It is also a real encouragement for those seeking to serve and honour the Lord no matter what their body’s limitations. Kevin Spencer’s disability is gradually having a greater impact on what he can take part in at church, as he can no longer go out at night. But that hasn’t stopped him leading a Bible study, even if he occasionally has to host it in his bedroom while he lies in bed.

“I tend not to get too frustrated,” he says. “I just say, ‘That chapter’s closed – what’s God got for me now?’” He grins. “And whatever happens, it’s all part of God’s plan. Who am I to argue against God?” SC

distorted our capacity for all of these relationships, God’s act of love through Jesus restores them... Faith is not reliant on a person’s cognisance. Rather, it is wholly reliant on the abundant grace and mercy of God poured out in Jesus. Therefore, it is the role of the church to continue to share the gospel with all people, including people with disability and their families, and to help break down the barriers that currently prevent this good news from reaching this “unreached” people group.

All believers are members of the body of Christ and have a role to play

While the world we live in may measure value and worth by outward appearance or on the basis of things that we do and achieve in this world, it is not so with the body of Christ. In this body all believers have a role to play and can contribute their gifts in service to God to bring about his purposes. These gifts are distributed by the Spirit for the “common good” of the body (1 Cor 12:4,7). Irrespective of a person’s physical or intellectual abilities or disabilities, those who are in Christ are gifted by the Spirit and have something valuable to contribute to the community of faith.

(Taken from Everyone Welcome – Accessible Church for All)

4 SouthernCross June–July 2023

What loving those with disability looks like

Bec Baines believes every church can become more accessible. Growing up hard of hearing, she knows first hand that many of the challenges people face can usually be solved with some simple tweaks and a bit of forethought.

“I’d say I had a foot in two worlds,” says Miss Baines, who attends Wentworthville Anglican. “I have had hearing loss from six months old and when we adopted my brother, he has Down Syndrome. He used signs to help him communicate.” Miss Baines has also learned Auslan, which opened her world to the Deaf community.

Being hard of hearing has never bothered Miss Baines, but throughout life she has had to make adjustments. “I just use one hearing aid, and that works

“It’s about belonging”

fine for me,” she says. “In school, I always sat in the front left of the classroom because I could hear from my right ear. In a church building, the acoustics make it hard [to hear]. I’m fairly

open, so I might position people on my right and explain to people who ask that it’s so I can hear them.”

Her experience, which has included a foster brother

with autism and a job as a support worker, has fuelled a passion for ensuring churches are accessible to all people – and her current role as an accessible ministry advisor with Youthworks helps her do just that.

“In history, churches have always advocated for people who are ostracised or pushed out,” she says. “We need to be a place where people feel welcomed and can have good access. It’s not just about inclusion, it’s about belonging. A lot of adults with disabilities don’t have many friends. Can churches be a genuine community that goes out to bring people in?

“How do we love the people and families of the people who have disabilities? We live in a world

We’re

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: Bec Baines with her brother Ben. Simple accessibility changes your church can make.
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Fun and faith at Jesus Club’s Big Day In

Judy Adamson

There was laughter, singing, dancing, lots of puppets and plenty of catch-ups as the Sydney-based members of Jesus Club got together under the one roof last month.

More than 150 people took part in the Big Day In evangelistic event at Castle Hill – the first time there had been a combined event since COVID hit in 2020.

“It was such a great day,” says Josh Reid, the operations manager for Jesus Club Community, which runs groups for adults with intellectual disability in parishes around the Diocese and beyond.

“QuizWorx gave a very clear gospel message – certainly a very fun message. There was a lot of laughing, a lot of puppets

from page 5

where everything is fast and efficient – almost survival of the fittest – but I think people can really take value [from] slowing down and spending time with others. Not all churches can do everything at once, but we can all be proactive rather than reactive in making our churches more accessible.”

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE

The church building

“With accessibility, most people think about ramps. It’s more than a ramp!

“Is it obvious where in the building the church is meeting? If you have a person who uses a wheelchair or is with a pram, will they have to sit separately or enter separately? If you have the flexibility with seats, ask them where they want to sit rather than just putting them at the back or side out of the way.

The parish website

that kept getting it wrong. But everyone had a great time. And we certainly prayed before the event that people who were already friends with Jesus would get to understand or know him

“Put anything that relates to accessibility on the website. What kind of images can you [add] to show where the entrance is? Is there a hearing loop situated at church? Are there fenced-in areas for your child?

“Put a tagline that says, ‘If there’s any way we can make our church more accessible, we would like to hear it’. Let people know that when they come to church, they will be welcomed at the door.

“A lot of people with disabilities will research places before they come, and parents of children with disabilities will research. If you have stuff, then show there is a lift, ramp or fences around playgrounds.”

Children’s programs

“It’s really good to have routines and a schedule with pictures, so that people can know the routine. When you have a visual timetable, it’s not just useful for

more, and those who weren’t would become friends with Jesus forever.”

Mr Reid says that, prior to COVID, Jesus Club held several popular events to bring all

children on the spectrum. It helps all kids that come along to know what’s happening.”

In Christian community

“People really take value from spending time [with others]... Having good conversations over a cuppa, or inviting them along to different things, or even offering respite to help look after a child with a disability.

“Sometimes churches can get daunted and think, ‘I don’t know what to do’ and then don’t do anything. Every church can do a little something to enable accessibility and be welcoming.

the groups together such as a disco and an art exhibition. With concerns related to the pandemic subsiding earlier this year, it seemed they could finally plan another get-together – but

“A lot comes down to the culture. It’s about making sure people belong and their presence is needed and valued.”

The church service

“How do we share with people what’s happening in the life of the church? What sort of information can we give to help people know what to expect?

“It’s really good to have routines and a schedule, and pictures, so people know what to expect. Even when we know, ‘This is when we do the Bible talk’, it becomes embedded in the program.” SC

QUICK CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE

Add signs to clearly mark building entrances

• Update the parish website to include accessibility information such as hearing loops, fenced playgrounds and ramps

• Display routines and schedules with pictures in

children’s ministry spaces

• Arrange the church interior to provide people who use wheelchairs with seating options, if possible

• Extend friendship.

• Ask people at church how you can make it more accessible for them

“It was such a great day”: Friends enjoy the
Jesus Club event – and each other’s company. PHOTO: Melisa Ng,
6 SouthernCross June–July 2023

they were keen for it to have an evangelistic flavour.

“I was talking to Matt Gorton at QuizWorx about it, and I said, ‘Our guys still love puppets and singing and dancing and being silly, and they have a desire to learn about Jesus, but you guys only do things with kids’,” Mr Reid recalls. “And he said, ‘I’ve actually done a church in Brisbane that has a big group of adults with intellectual disabilities, and we designed and adapted the show for them!’ So, that’s where it started.

“It was a great show, and there was nothing childish about it. Puppets are relatable to all ages – everybody likes the Muppets! The way they did it was really relatable for everyone, no matter what their age or level of understanding.”

Mr Reid adds that, although many Jesus Club members might have the outlook of a five-yearold with the attendant innocence and wonder, they are still adults with a lot of lived experience and need to be treated as such.

“In our worksheets we don’t have pictures of children doing activities – we use pictures of adults,” he says. “We don’t quote from the children’s Bible but from the easy-to-read adult Bible. It’s really important that what we present and do is for adults... we consciously think of them as our peers. It’s adult and adult, not adult and child.”

The plan for the afternoon included the QuizWorx performance – an adapted version of its show Molly and the Lost Sheep – singing, a puppetmaking workshop, a dance presentation from members of the Castle Hill Jesus Club and afternoon tea. Attendees were also given a showbag containing a CEV gospel and a number of Christian comics, all of which had a person with a disability pictured on the front.

The puppet making and puppet show were a huge hit with the Jesus Club members, who were talking enthusiastically about them afterwards. “It was very good – and so exciting,” said

Gail, while Karen said she had had “lots of fun” and learned from the puppet show that “God is great [and] he made everyone – the whole world”.

Club member Taylor Kingsley was bubbling with excitement, saying, “What I liked about today is that all members of Jesus Club came together to know about Jesus and to connect with one another, and just to show God’s love towards everyone.

“What I’ve learned about God today is that he shows his everlasting love to us in what he’s done for us by dying on

the cross to save us all from our sins... that’s a nice reminder today that God accepts everyone into his kingdom no matter who we are.”

Mr Reid says that club members had been keen to ask friends with disability to the event because they wanted them to also know about Jesus.

“One of the ways that Jesus Club grows is because the members of Jesus Club who become Christian, or are Christians, tell their other friends and associates that they hang out with in art groups, special Olympics groups or sport groups about it – they’re good evangelists!” he says.

“There was a lot of work leading up to the event but the way that people took part and enjoyed it... that’s what we do it for. We know that God’s the one who really moves in people’s hearts to connect with him, and we feel honoured and privileged to be involved in such a unique ministry – but also such a fun ministry.” SC

Jesus Club’s “Big Day In” at Castle Hill.
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What does Sydney’s newest church have in common with its oldest?

New ships are launched with champagne over the bow. New church buildings begin with turning the first sod of earth… and prayer.

“May this be a place where sinners find their Saviour and the prodigal is welcomed by you, a generous and compassionate

Father,” prayed Christine Zheng, the student minister at Life Anglican Church, Marsden Park.

“Father, as much as we love to see this building being built, we are reminded that church is not about the building, but your people. So we pray that you will help us to love one another in

whatever circumstances, as our Lord Jesus has taught us.”

The congregation has already been in Marsden Park for six years, meeting at Richard Johnson Anglican School. Senior minister the Rev Mark Collins was on the team at Life Anglican at Quakers Hill, which sent out

a group to launch the Marsden Park ministry.

Rector of Quakers Hill, the Rev Geoff Bates, was pleased to witness the start of a church building for the congregation.

“The place is just growing unbelievably fast and it’s great to see this step happening,” he said.

Digging it: Archbishop Raffel turns the first sod to mark the beginning of construction for the Anglican church in Marsden Park.
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Leaving a Living Legacy

“The facilities will only enhance their ministry and development. It’s unbelievable. When you put a site up, you’ll probably double it in 12 months.”

At the event, Mr Collins quoted Psalm 127: “Unless the L ord builds the house, the builders labour in vain”.

He said: “As I reflect on our church here in Marsden Park, it’s actually all been the Lord’s work and he has done amazing things since we first began. He’s saved people through the amazing grace found in Jesus. He’s grown people in their love for Jesus, their love for others, and their love for this very diverse community that exists here in Marsden Park.”

Mr Collins also thanked a list of churches in other parts of Sydney that have prayed for and supported the new ministry. One of those supporters, rector of Manly the Rev Bruce Clarke, said, “We are very excited to see the parish up and running on its own feet. I’m sure when [the church is] built and it’s open, it’s going to have a massive impact in terms of providing a facility for their ministry out here.”

“A DEEP AND BEAUTIFUL CONNECTION”

In turning the sod, Archbishop Kanishka Raffel also spoke of the co-operation that brought it about.

“I’m waging an informal campaign to replace the word ‘diocese’ with the word ‘fellowship’, at least where that’s possible,” he said. “I think today you have a very good demonstration of the gospel

impact of the Sydney Anglican fellowship. The working together of diocesan organisations, of individuals, of local churches, their leadership and members, combining together for a gospel purpose. We’re not just putting up a building here because we’re Anglicans and we like buildings. We’re doing this for gospel reasons.”

The venture, in co-operation with the Anglican Church Growth Corporation and New Churches for New Communities, was also made possible with a $1.5 million gift from Church Hill, the oldest parish in Sydney. That parish’s rector, the Rev Justin Moffatt, watched the turning of the sod with great joy.

“As I was sitting listening to the Archbishop speak, I was struck by the fact that this sort of thing has been happening since 1793,” he said. “I presume Marsden [after whom the suburb is named] would have brought together various leaders to lay foundation stones and turn sods of soil, saying, ‘Here’s a group of people who have a heart for Christ and for mission, and they’re going to do something about it; they’re going to build a church right here’.

“In 1840, they sat down with Bishop Broughton to lay a foundation for the Garrison Church [in the Rocks]; in 1848, they did it for St Philip’s, Church Hill; and in 2023, they’re doing it here in Marsden Park.

“I felt a deep and beautiful connection between the two parishes – particularly the first parish in Australia helping the newest parish in Australia.” SC

16th September 2023

A Grandparent Revolution - it’s time to leave a legacy that will outlive us

The National Grandparent Conference (NGC) seeks to engage, equip and encourage grandparents and ministry leaders to be intentional in leaving a faith legacy for others to follow, especially our grandchildren.

The 2023 NGC will once again bring together a diverse range of inspirational speakers, who in sharing their insight and experience, will seek to encourage grandparents to grab hold of the possibilities that exist for seeing the generations that follow us grow both spiritually and emotionally.

16th September 2023

9am-4:30pm

WHEN REGISTER

WHERE

Figtree Anglican Church 4-10 Gibsons Road, Figtree NSW 2525

In person, online (live stream) plus discount option for large live stream group registrations.

For more information or to register visit ngmlegacy.com.au or call Figtree Anglican on 02 4272 1322

Early Bird Discount ends 18th August 2023 Registrations close 10th September 2023 or once maximum capacity is reached.

SUPPORTED BY:

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:

Giving thanks: Mark Collins and Christine Zheng
Turning the sod at Marsden Park.
SouthernCross June–July 2023 9

One kitchen – double impact

Every fortnight a small group gathers in the kitchen of Austinmer Anglican. The church building, which was once the local RSL club, uses its former Chinese restaurant kitchen to cook all sorts of cuisines as part of an ongoing local ministry.

Known as “For the Love Of”, or “FLO”, the focus of the ministry is to bring people together around food, equip them with skills, and share with the wider community. People register to come to cooking workshops and share a meal with one another, then together they prepare enough to deliver meals to nominated individuals in the neighbourhood.

Wendy Potts, who oversees the ministry’s vision and leadership, says the aim has always been to do something significant as well as achievable. Not only did Austinmer have the facilities for FLO, it also had people with cooking skills and a heart for those who might be in need of company.

“We didn’t want to just offer food parcels… we wanted to offer community with the view to people discovering Jesus,” she says.

By doubling the amount in workshops, those involved maximise their community

Bringing people together: The tasty results of a FLO bread-making night.

impact. In the past 12 months they have given away more than 150 meals to people suffering illness, or enduring hardship.

The ministry also partners with OzHarvest and Anglicare to ensure it can be a blessing in as many ways as possible. OzHarvest delivers fresh food that would otherwise go to waste, and Anglicare provided an initial pantry of non-perishables. Through distributed recipe cards, workshop attendees are also pointed to further services such as Anglicare’s financial and mental health support.

“That was our vision for it, and why we came up with the

“Bible Trek in 80 Days” is the continuous story of God’s plan for man, from Abraham in Ur to Saint Paul in Rome, in language simple and modern and sparkled with occasional humour. The book consists of 78 Bible study groups divided into 4 sections – The Grand Escape, Thrones and Stones, Journey with Jesus and The Explosive Church. Constant Scriptural references will assure the reader of its verity.

“Bible Trek in 80 Days” is the continuous story of God’s plan for man, from Abraham in Ur to Saint Paul in Rome, in language simple and modern and sparkled with occasional humour. The book consists of 78 Bible study groups divided into 4 sections – The Grand Escape, Thrones and Stones, Journey with Jesus and The Explosive Church. Constant Scriptural references will assure the reader of its verity.

“Bible Trek in 80 Days” is the continuous story of God’s plan for man, from Abraham in Ur to Saint Paul in Rome, in language simple and modern and sparkled with occasional humour. The book consists of 78 Bible study groups divided into 4 sections – The Grand Escape, Thrones and Stones, Journey with Jesus and The Explosive Church. Constant Scriptural references will assure the reader of its verity.

“Bible Trek in 80 Days” is the continuous story of God’s plan for man, from Abraham in Ur to Saint Paul in Rome, in language simple and modern and sparkled with occasional humour. The book consists of 78 Bible study groups divided into 4 sections – The Grand Escape, Thrones and Stones, Journey with Jesus and The Explosive Church. Constant Scriptural references will assure the reader of its verity.

Everybody loves a story, and here we are shown the magnificence of God and the wonder of His great love for us – a wonder beyond comprehension yet delightful to read and absorb.

Everybody loves a story, and here we are shown the magnificence of God and the wonder of His great love for us – a wonder beyond comprehension yet delightful to read and absorb.

Everybody loves a story, and here we are shown the magnificence of God and the wonder of His great love for us – a wonder beyond comprehension yet delightful to read and absorb.

Everybody loves a story, and here we are shown the magnificence of God and the wonder of His great love for us – a wonder beyond comprehension yet delightful to read and absorb.

term ‘For the Love Of’: for the love of good food, for the love of neighbours, for the love of friendship, for the love of God,” Mrs Potts explains. “We have people who love cooking and giving food, we love eating and that was the shape of the ministry.”

FLO started almost three years ago, has survived two COVID lockdowns, and reaches a number of locals who don’t attend church. Each workshop brings together a mix of people from church and the community and, says Mrs Potts, “We hope there will be natural friendships and conversations around the

table and natural next steps that happen in terms of relationships, and the experience of Christian community”.

She adds that an older gentleman was invited by his neighbour, who recognised he was lonely and invited him to the workshop. “He comes every time now, and it’s been a beautiful thing to watch him come along. One of our older ministers has come alongside him and meets for coffee with him.

“Pray we can continue to have relationship-building moments with our non-church community, and that they can take steps towards Jesus through us.” SC

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The book was published by Vivid Publishing, a division of Fontaine Publishing Group, Fremantle, W.A. It is available from Amazon, Dymocks and Koorong, and also from the author at $30, phone 0410 501 556 Read and enjoy!

The book was published by Vivid Publishing, a division of Fontaine Publishing Group, Fremantle, W.A. It is available from Amazon, Dymocks and Koorong, and also from the author at $30, phone 0410 501 556 Read and enjoy!

The book was published by Vivid Publishing, a division of Fontaine Publishing Group, Fremantle, W.A. It is available from Amazon, Dymocks and Koorong, and also from the author at $30, phone 0410 501 556 Read and enjoy!

How Austinmer maximises its food ministry.
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Heart-language Chinese ministry

When Serena Cheung was looking for a church, she sought out one in her heart language. “At that time I spoke Cantonese, so I chose a Chinese church,” she says.

It wasn’t until many years later that she considered joining an English service. “When I was on a mission trip, God changed my perspective, but I was afraid to speak in English at the time.

“God changed my mind and so I jumped out of my comfort zone. I thought, ‘I have to go to the English congregation so I can not only share the gospel with Chinese people, but also with others’.”

More than one in 10 Sydney Anglican parishes offer some form of Bible teaching in Chinese. This ranges from church services to Bible studies, sermon translations or other ministries.

TEN PER CENT OF SYDNEY HAS CHINESE HERITAGE

It’s a key way churches are connecting with communities around Sydney, given that more than 10 per cent of the population has Chinese ancestry

In 2021, Mandarin was the

top language used at home in Australia other than English, with almost three in every hundred households using the dialect. This figure doesn’t include the many homes where dialects such as Cantonese, Hokkien or Hakka are spoken.

The first Chinese congregation in Sydney dates back to the 1880s in Surry Hills. Political pressure leading up to Federation in 1901 resulted in Chinese-speaking Anglican services falling off the radar until Cabramatta started a congregation in the 1980s.

A VITAL MINISTRY

There are more than 30 Chinesespeaking ministries listed on the Sydney Anglicans Chinese Ministry website. The Rev David Yung, rector of St Paul’s,

Kogarah, has been involved in updating the website since 2020.

“This ministry is vital,” he says. “We want to take the gospel to all nations. If they’re here in our suburb, we need to share the gospel with them.”

Mr Yung says the focus is not just on reaching one people group, but rather on looking at who our neighbours are.

“In Kogarah, we also have a lot of Indians and Nepalese, so how do we reach these people groups as well? We need to be observant of how our suburbs are changing and pray under God that we will make something work.”

Many Chinese people can feel nervous to step into a situation where they’re required to speak a language in which they are not confident. This was true for Ms Cheung, and she observes it to be true for others she ministers to.

“Chinese are happy in their comfort zone,” she says. “They will ask questions privately, but when you really love other people it doesn’t matter if you speak good. You try your best to connect with them.”

She wants to help Chinese Christians grow in their faith and conviction, so they will be bold to share the gospel and fellowship with people from all nations. She says making the

Bible easy to understand is the first step to growth.

“That’s why we have Bible study in their heart language. It’s good for them to ask questions, and for the people who are new to church it’s easier to understand the gospel.”

MANY OPPORTUNITIES, MANY CHALLENGES

One of the biggest challenges facing Chinese language ministry is finding Chinesespeaking ministers.

“Most are from overseas – we don’t have many home-grown Chinese ministers,” Mr Yung says. “Over the past 20 years there are a lot more home grown, but we are still lacking. Pray for more Chinese workers.”

Another challenge facing the ministry is the diversity within Chinese culture. Tom Zhang has found this while ministering to Chinese people at Chester Hill. While they can converse in Mandarin, many speak different dialects at home and values may vary.

“Chinese ministry is also multicultural ministry,” he says. “There are many subcultures. I am doing cross-cultural ministry, not just because of the dialogue, but I also have an academic background and the people [I minister to]

“This
ministry
is vital”:
Morning tea in the courtyard at St Paul’s, Kogarah.
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A SAMPLE OF WHAT’S HAPPENING…

St Andrew’s Cathedral

Serena Cheung offers written translations of the weekly sermon, teaches ESL classes and runs Mandarin Bible study groups with people from all over Asia. “I print out more than 20 sermon translations and put them on a tray, and sometimes I can see even visitors are taking copies,” she says. “They can understand the whole sermon... I saw a student highlight the points and [make] notes. I can see God is really good, helping me to help people. They find the translation helps them to understand and some visitors did not expect we have a Chinese translation.”

St Paul’s, Kogarah

David Yung’s team runs a combined English and Chinese service on a Sunday, plus Chinesespeaking Bible studies. “Whenever we have a non-English or non-majority ministry, people will get uncomfortable,” he says. “One thing I keep pushing to my congregation is that we’re

Ms Cheung expresses joy about the opportunities to bring all these subcultures together in

not a cruise ship, we’re a lifeboat. Lifeboats by design are not comfortable. We want to save lives. We need to be aware of that and balance it. We can’t be so uncomfortable that people don’t hear the gospel, but we need to be willing to be uncomfortable so that people will be saved.”

Chester Hill

There is a strong focus on discipleship at Chester Hill, and equipping Christians of different cultures and languages with discipleship skills. “We want to raise Mandarin people to speak to Mandarin people, Vietnamese people to speak to Vietnamese people, for example,” says Tom Zhang. “We’re thinking about how to raise up disciples and encourage them to open their homes and invite other people to come… We want to get deeper into the different subcultures of Chinese people to reach out to many Chinese people around us.”

PLEASE PRAY FOR…

more workers for the harvest – more Chinesespeaking Christians who are able to reach out to Chinese speakers

• more Chinese-speaking ministers to be trained and equipped

• more ministries in heart languages in order to reach other Chinese people effectively

• Chinese-speaking Christians to have a heart for all people and grow in their faith so they can communicate the gospel to others

• many Chinese people to hear the gospel and be saved

Over half a million people in Australia speak a Chinese dialect. Here’s how we’re reaching them. haven’t been to college. It takes patience to get to know people [of different subcultures].”

ministry [and] it is not just Chinese connecting with Chinese – I have the whole church as my team,” she says.

“I can see when the Chinese come, they also want to learn the English Bible. I can see the whole picture for the whole church.

“My church is an international

church, not a Chinese church. I also help [my Chinese Bible study] connect with Englishspeaking members of church. When you share the gospel in Australia, you don’t just meet Chinese; people speak other languages.

“When people become

Christians, they understand the Bible in their heart language. One day a lady who got baptised asked to learn more English so she could share the gospel with her coworkers who speak English! That is what we are doing: connecting with people different to us.” SC

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SouthernCross June–July 2023 13

Making a difference in Africa

Russell Powell

The Rev Dave Morgan took the goodwill of St Mark’s, Sadleir with him in April as he headed off to Rwanda for GAFCON IV and a tour of rural Tanzania. What he was most looking forward to was meeting the young Bible college student his church supports.

It started on Thanksgiving Sunday at St Mark’s two years ago – the day each year when the congregation supports an evangelical mission group such as Anglican Aid or the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship. In 2021, St Mark’s was encouraged to support a student at Bunda Bible College in the Tanzanian Diocese of Mara.

“We were raising money to put on a homegrown youth and kids worker, so we said to Anglican Aid, ‘Is there someone in Africa who has a heart for youth ministry that we could give towards their training?’” Mr Morgan recalls.

“Anglican Aid said, ‘Well, there is this guy Frank Siage at Bunda Bible College – he’s just about to start’. So, by the grace of God, we were able to raise all of the funds needed for his three years of tuition.”

Fast forward two years and Mr Morgan was one of the participants on a tour to Tanzania that included the college where Mr Siage is studying.

“We got to Bunda Bible College in the morning, we got off the bus and walked in and there was all this singing and celebration as we arrived because Archbishop Kanishka was there,” Mr Morgan says.

“The college choir sang and there were a number of different people speaking. Then Eddie Ozols, who organised the tour, got up and started interviewing Frank. He did that via an interpreter because Frank’s

English is not great. Eddie said, ‘Dave Morgan’s here – why don’t you come up?’ So I gave Frank a hug straight away. It was such a delight to meet him.”

Mr Siage had been married only days before so his wife Esther was also there, and Mr Morgan says the time together was “a real joy”.

“After the chapel service, I spent about 10 minutes having a conversation with Frank and his wife. There was a friend of theirs who had good English, so he helped me chat with them.”

Even though it was an emotional meeting halfway across the world from the western suburbs of Sydney,

Mr Morgan doesn’t think such cross-border support should be unusual.

“Sadleir isn’t a wealthy church, but we are still much better off than our brothers and our sisters in Africa and we have a significant opportunity to support them,” he says.

Another delight for Mr Morgan at GAFCON was meeting the Rev Joseph Ruzengiza, who is the head evangelist and trainer of evangelists in the Diocese of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Last year we supported them for Thanksgiving Sunday to purchase $5000 worth of Swahili bibles and prayer books as they work towards planting 50 churches over the next five years,” Mr Morgan says. “I didn’t know whether Joseph would be at GAFCON but realising he was, and meeting him in person, was probably the biggest highlight of the conference for me.

“One of the things I love about being the pastor at Sadleir is the heart of gospel generosity God has given his people here towards needs beyond their particular patch. I thank God for his ongoing work in them.” SC

than

Brian Booth, well known for his cricket and his faith, died in Sydney on May 19 at the age of 89.

Booth, who played hockey for Australia at the 1956 Melbourne

Olympics and captained Australia in cricket in the 1960s, was a middle-order batsman with a test average of 42.21.

Converted to Christianity in the 1950s, he was known for his

faith and the moral dilemmas he faced when being called upon to play or practice on a Sunday.

Celebrated cricket writer Gideon Haigh, paying a tribute in The Australian newspaper,

recalled the challenges Booth faced after his conversion.

“Until that point, sport had been my God,” Brian remembered. ‘‘Now I sensed a greater purpose in living than success in cricket.’’

“I sensed a greater purpose in living
success in cricket”
Support from Sadleir: Dave Morgan with Frank and Esther Siage.
A
meeting halfway around the world.
14 SouthernCross June–July 2023

To the moon, and eternity

Christians have a long history of association with space and, in particular, moon missions. It was John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, who said “to look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible, it just strengthens my faith.”

Not to mention Buzz Aldrin –who celebrated communion on the moon – and Commander Frank Borman, who exited Earth’s orbit for the first time and quoted Genesis 1 as he looked back. James Irwin and Charles Duke both became involved in missionary work after their moon missions.

So, it is no surprise that a Christian, Navy pilot Victor Glover, will be part of the first mission to land humans on the moon since NASA’s Apollo 17 in 1972. The Artemis program aims to land the first woman, and next men, on the moon by 2024 and is also planning a human mission to Mars.

Captain Glover, who attends church and teaches Sunday school in Houston, is originally from Pomona, California. He is a vocal supporter of outreach work and advocates for mentors

to guide young people.

“Growing up in the ’70s, ’80s [with gangs around], I lived briefly in a part of Pomona called Sintown – not the nicest place in the world,” he told a NASA podcast. “So, you know, a lot of those paths I could have taken we don’t talk a lot about, but they weren’t good.

“A lot of my friends wound up in gangs… these were my really good friends… and I just had

some good influences keeping me out of that.”

A member of the International Space Station crew for six months last year, Captain Glover brought communion cups and a Bible with him and said he did “virtual service, virtual giving, reading my Bible and praying”.

He told reporters, “I want to use the abilities that God has given me to do my job well and support my crewmates and

mission and NASA. That’s really the thing I think the most about”. Captain Glover and his three colleagues will venture around the moon on Artemis II as part of NASA’s path to establishing a long-term presence on the moon for science and exploration. He wants to take his physical Bible with him on the moon mission, but weight limits mean he might have to settle for bringing a digital copy.

On the eve of the 1960-61 first-class season, twenty-sevenyear-old Brian almost retired to devote himself entirely to his work as a lay reader and youth welfare worker. His wife Judy persuaded him to carry on, and a two-year record of 1276 Sheffield Shield runs at 63 gained him the last batting spot on Australia’s 1961 Ashes tour where he made his debut.

Still, if he was going to play, Brian was resolved to do it his way: he kept, quietly and unostentatiously, to a

code, on-field and off, infused with Christian spirit. Brian was a moral man, but never moralistic.

Sydney Anglicans, indeed Christians all over Australia, will remember Brian Booth for books such as Cricket and Christianity and his autobiography Booth to Bat, with a foreword written by Sir Donald Bradman.

He was also a popular speaker at Christian events, where he would give his testimony, and had a long association with

the Christian Businessmen’s Association and the Bible Society of Australia.

“Brian was quiet and sometimes reserved but always wise,” said NSW Cricket Society secretary Ronald Cardwell. “He had great recall of cricket and hockey moments and was a wonderful raconteur when the occasion called for a story. His Christian faith set him apart and he played all sport with the right spirit and attitude.” SC

Space for faith: Christian astronaut Victor Glover will be part of NASA’s next mission to the moon. photo: Bill Ingalls The Christian leading the space race.
SC
We remember former test captain and Olympian Brian Booth.
SouthernCross June–July 2023 15

Toddler jailed for life for possessing a Bible

Churches and other places Western visitors see are “showpieces

The headline seems unbelievable, but it is true. News agencies around the world are reporting the news, revealed by an official US report, about persecution in North Korea targeting a two-year-old.

The State Department report documents the previously unknown case of an entire family arrested because of

their religious practices and possessing a Bible. The family, including a two-year-old child, were given life sentences in political prison camps. Although the arrest was in 2009, it had not been revealed before and the prison term is presumably still in force.

Conditions for Christians in North Korean prison camps are

PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU

dire, and physical mistreatment is routine.

According to the State Department report and another account quoted in the document, Christians are categorised as a “hostile class” in the country’s songbun system, a social classification based on family background and presumed support of the regime, and

Open Doors is urging prayer for the North Korean leader with a campaign titled “Have you prayed for Kim Jong Un today”?

1. Pray for the heart, mind and soul of Kim Jong Un. It is rare for the most severe persecutors to become believers, but it happens. Pray that Kim will finally see the truth.

2. Pray for Kim’s family, his wife, his three children and his brother and sisters. Pray they will turn from their ways and rely on God for their salvation. Also, pray for their protection. Pray against the indoctrination of Kim’s children. Pray that God will protect their minds, hearts and souls.

3. Pray that North Korea will soon abandon its evil policies. Pray for

protection of the Christians and other citizens of North Korea.

4. Pray that North Korea’s elite will be saved and/or that they have to step down from their positions.

5. Pray for the prayer movement inside and outside North Korea. Pray that God’s Spirit will motivate and give strength to North Korean Christians so that they can pray for their government and their country. Pray for healing.

6. Also pray that God will inspire millions of Jesus’ followers around the world to pray for Kim Jong Un, his family and his regime.

Christians are targeted as a “serious threat to loyalty to the state”. It said Christians were regarded as the “most dangerous political class of people, and the persecution is violent and intense”.

Life for Christians in North Korea was described as a “constant cauldron of pressure; capture or death is only a

for foreigners”:
Families at a Pyongyang funfair. photo: Roman Harak
Persecution hits the headlines.
16 SouthernCross June–July 2023

mistake away”. Parents often hide their faith from their children with worship done “as secretly as possible”. The report concluded that people known to be Christian occupy the lowest rung of society, and that every Christian is “vulnerable and in danger”.

Torture is routine and one account of a man who smuggled a Bible into the country said he was placed in solitary confinement, where authorities beat him with a metal rod and gave him one meal a day of boiled corn kernels. Another detainee said, “They [guards] would dash my head against the wall and people downstairs would hear the sound”.

There could be up to 400,000 clandestine Christians in North Korea, but the churches Western visitors see are reported to be “showpieces for foreigners” and there is no freedom to worship.

The latest story is no surprise to the persecution watchdog Open Doors, which earlier this year put North Korea at the top of its World Watch List – making it the world’s most dangerous place for Christians.

“ALL FOR JESUS”

Radio Free Asia reported another incident of persecution, in April this year, when police raided a dawn prayer and Bible study meeting at a farmhouse in central North Korea.

Tipped off by an informant, authorities arrested five people on charges of believing in God. There is no further information on their fate, but it is expected that they were sent to a labour camp. Despite pressure from authorities, the five captured Christians have refused to renounce their religion, according to a witness who spoke to Radio Free Asia.

“A staff member of the judicial agency told us that the [believers] refused to tell where they got their bibles and said, ‘All for Jesus, even in death’.” SC SouthernCross

Worrying reports about churches in Ukraine

A report from a US observer group, the Institute for the Study of War, says Russian forces have shut down another Ukrainian evangelical church in Mariupol, reportedly as part of a wider campaign of religious persecution in occupied Ukraine. Much of Mariupol has been destroyed by shelling and thousands have died.

An advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, Petro Andryushchenko, has sent messages from the besieged city that Russian forces seized the Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity and are using it to house 10 to 30 Russian servicemen.

Newsweek quoted Mr

Andryushchenko as saying the Russians had targeted this particular church partly because it offered a “human shield” for troops, as residential buildings are only a handful of metres away.

According to CNN, Russian forces have damaged or destroyed at least 59 religious sites across Ukraine since the invasion began.

The Institute of War says Protestants in Mariupol have suffered two-thirds of all of the reported religious repression events, with evangelical Baptists among the targets. Ukraine has the second-largest Baptist community in Europe, with about 2100 congregations. SC

PLEASE PRAY FOR UKRAINE

Sovereign Lord, you observe all those who dwell on earth. Have mercy we pray on those who now suffer the miseries of a war not of their own making. Have compassion on the wounded and dying; comfort the brokenhearted; confound the hatred and madness of those who make war; guide our rulers, bring war to an end, bring peace across the world. Unite us all under the reign of your Son, the Prince of Peace, before whose judgement seat the rulers of the world will give account, and in whose name we pray. Amen.

Christian communities are being repressed. Persecution: A church in Vesele, near Mariupol, after Russian bombing. photo: National Police of Ukraine
2023 17
June–July

Anglican schools and local churches –partners in the gospel

Iwas delighted recently to hear that, at one of our churches, a dozen or so teachers and school council members from the local Anglican school attend the one service. They were being well supported and regularly prayed for.

I mention this because at about this time every year, the Archbishop meets with heads of Anglican schools in the Diocese (on Ascension Day), and a week later meets with the chairs of school councils. I believe it is a practice initiated by Archbishop Donald Robinson, and it provides a regular opportunity for me to interact with some of the key leaders of the 38 Anglican schools with which the Sydney Anglican Church is closely related. Seventeen of these schools belong to the Anglican Schools Corporation network, 13 are other diocesan schools and eight are independent Anglican schools. All of the schools have board members elected by Synod or appointed or nominated by the Archbishop.

We are extremely well served by our heads of schools and chairs of school boards/councils. The latter, of course, are volunteers, as are all our school governors. Considerable attention and prayer is given to ensuring that our key school leaders are people of Christian faith. All of the constituting documents of Sydney Anglican schools express their objectives in terms of two goals that can be broadly summarised – to provide a rounded education of the highest calibre, and to provide instruction in the Christian faith as taught and practised in the Anglican Church in Sydney.

I like to speak of Anglican schools as “educational spheres of gospel hospitality”. Our enrolment policies are open so that schools

welcome children from families of Christian faith, other faiths and no faith. I take it that in our schools, children will not only hear the Christian message in chapel, and engage deeply and thoughtfully with the Scriptures in Christian Ed classes, but will also witness the character of the lives of those in the school, especially the faculty and staff, who are followers of Jesus.

I trust that students experience the kind of community that is created by the gospel – as those in key leadership roles, including the head, chaplain, teachers and staff, lead in a servant-hearted way, and the community is characterised by generosity, welcome, prayer, truth, compassion, grace and hope. Ideally, students also grow in their understanding of the sovereign, gracious providence of God in every sphere of activity and learning, across subject areas and co-curricular activities.

Although schools are not churches and churches are not schools, there is a deep fellowship between our schools, the Synod and the churches. As I meet with heads and those who chair our councils I am deeply aware of and grateful for the unanimity of purpose and desire to see Christ honoured in the life of the school, and commitment to our diocesan purpose of making disciples.

The Synod appoints up to half the people on many school boards and, a few years ago, the Synod ordinance was amended to ensure that there is a minimum of three heads of school appointed to the Synod. Of course, there have typically been heads of schools elected or appointed to the Synod anyway, and that continues to be the case. Several of our school councils are chaired by senior ministers and I am grateful to them and their churches for making this service a priority. They all devote substantial time to

18 SouthernCross June–July 2023
Kanishka Raffel

supporting their heads, leading the council and engaging with the school community.

I have been greatly encouraged by the ways in which many schools and churches have sought to form partnerships and be of mutual encouragement. I know of school heads who invite the local Anglican clergy to meet with them from time to time, to share information – including opportunities such as youth groups or community service – and to pray for one another.

These kinds of informal and occasional contacts often lead to opportunities that hadn’t been imagined before. Many ministry families send their children to Anglican schools which, among other things, can allow children to remain in the same school even if the family moves location to serve in another parish. I’m often told by school heads how much they appreciate the contribution of ministry families to the life of their school.

Wonderfully, a number of schools offer their buildings for Sunday church meetings, including in growth areas, and several churches host school activities at different times.

Of course, many school faculty and staff, including heads of schools and governors (including those who chair councils), are members of local Anglican churches. I’m delighted to hear of senior ministers who make a point of checking in with school heads who are part of their church family, even visiting them at their school once a year, and for churches where teachers are regularly prayed for in services. These are simple but powerful ways of expressing care and mutual partnership in gospel ministry.

Cailey and I were both educated in government schools. In Cailey’s case, a few teachers who ran an ISCF (Inter-School

Christian Fellowship) group had a tremendous impact not only on her but a whole cohort of her peers and others in the school. I am grateful for the freedom to preach the gospel in Anglican schools, but equally grateful for members of our churches who lead and teach in government schools and bear a faithful witness in a very different and demanding context.

The opportunity for church members to teach SRE in local primary schools is precious. Our volunteer Scripture teachers are unsung heroes of the faith, generously, gently (and courageously!) spending time in preparation and teaching children in government schools who might otherwise never have the opportunity to hear of Jesus. How I thank God for them! SC

Can I ask you to join me in thanking God for the opportunity of partnership in the gospel between local churches and Anglican schools. You may like to use this prayer: Almighty Father, who commanded us to love you with all our mind, look with your gracious favour, we pray, on our universities, colleges and schools. Bless all who teach and all who learn; grant that they may seek and love the truth, grow in wisdom and knowledge, and in humility of heart ever look to you, the source of all wisdom and understanding. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Archbishop writes. SouthernCross June–July 2023 19

How an evangelism coach changed my Jesus conversations

When Becky Lui told me she was working on an evangelism coaching network, it raised questions for me. First, what was an evangelism coach? And second, why do we need a network?

My time is spent juggling two small children, work and church commitments, plus an array of friendships. If I was going to participate, I needed to be convinced it was worth my time.

“Together we are the body of Christ, so we need to work together when we want to point people to Christ,” explains Mrs Lui, who is dean of residents at Macquarie University’s Robert

Menzies College and an evangelism coach with Evangelism and New Churches.

“Ephesians 4:11-12 speaks of evangelists as gifts to the church because they help equip the whole church in the work of loving people and speaking gospel truths into their lives.

“Working together makes things better. We need the whole body to evangelise – not just on Sundays or special events, but each member of the body to be active seven days a week in the different fields God has placed us in.”

According to Mrs Lui, an evangelist is simply someone who shares Jesus with others. “The Bible doesn’t really spell out

20 SouthernCross June–July 2023

qualifications and descriptions, so I think that if you’re sharing the gospel, you’re an evangelist, and you’re a gift to the body,” she says. “So let’s recognise that this is what we’re doing and then purposely get better at it.”

The goal is to connect church members who are currently evangelising in their day-to-day lives – whether that be in the workplace, with their neighbours, at Saturday sports or at the playground – and create a network of like-minded evangelism coaches for ongoing fellowship, support and growth in how to serve and love their local Christian communities to grow in this area.

My evangelism coaching session began with Mrs Lui asking thoughtful questions to help me reflect on recent conversations I had had with people about Jesus. Together we discussed what went well, where I could have been more considerate or pastoral, and ways I could more clearly share the hope that I have.

Her goal was not to bombard me with techniques, tricks or fancy ways to Bible-bash everyone I meet. Instead, it was to light a fire in me that I could then carry back to my Christian friends.

The more we share about our own evangelism experiences, the more we encourage others to also keep doing the difficult task of sharing the gospel. The more we can share our own conversations, the more we can inspire others to do so.

The more we show other believers that we are a person who wants to hear about their evangelism efforts, the more people will share their conversations with us, and we can continue to spur one another on.

THREE THINGS I LEARNED

Here are three ways I’ve noticed that evangelism coaching has shaped me:

1 It’s not my job to convince people to become Christian Being reminded by Mrs Lui that we are first and foremost looking for lost sheep helps me to focus on my task, and not slip into doing God’s job. Convicting people and changing hearts is the Holy Spirit’s work. My work is to preach Christ and help people fix their eyes on him.

This is both a big comfort to me and a huge challenge. I’m not responsible for winning arguments or persisting with people who aren’t interested. When I’m sharing about my faith, I’m gently looking for those who have ears to hear and giving those who are curious a space to ask further.

2 Reflection is important

I’ve begun to reflect more intentionally on my gospel conversations, both alone and with others.

“Start with encouragement, looking at what you did well,” Mrs Lui says. “Break it down in terms of what you did, how you gauged

responses and what the follow-up was. Analyse the conversation, asking what the jumping spot was to Jesus, and if it was the right jumping spot.“

When doing this with others, find out how they brought Jesus up and why they chose to share some things and not others. “The aim is to sharpen everyone,” Mrs Lui says. “What we’re trying to do is build teams of evangelisers in every church so that we can share everyone’s ideas.”

3 Use Netflix to prepare

1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”. A great way to practise this is to ask yourself how you would share the hope of Jesus with characters in the shows you are watching, whether it’s Bluey or reruns of The Office

“What would you say to Chilli Heeler?” Mrs Lui asks, referencing Bluey’s mum from the Bluey episode, “Baby Race”. “How would you point her to Jesus in this moment when she’s feeling guilty?” As a result of this prompting, I cannot watch TV the same again!

Mrs Lui longs to see enthusiasm for evangelism spread from person to person in our churches, and prays that a network of evangelists can supercharge this spread.

“I pray for everyone to grow in their zeal for the glory of God,” she says. “I pray also for zeal for the task and for the joy that is set before us, as we undergo trials together and share burdens together and spur one another on.

“That’s God’s model; that we are together and we are a body. That brings him glory.” SC

QUICK TIPS FOR REFLECTING ON EVANGELISTIC CONVERSATIONS

• Start with encouragements. What went well?

• Break down the conversation. What did you do and say? How did you gauge the other person’s response? What was the follow-up?

• Analyse the conversation. How did you jump to Jesus? Were there other spots where you could have mentioned Jesus? How was it received?

• Reflect on your own life. Did I share anything about the gospel that I also need to submit to?

• Remember: it’s not about fancy conversational techniques, it’s about living your life for God’s glory and loving people enough to share the gospel with them.

Becky Lui from ENC shares her enthusiasm for evangelistic networks. Sharing Jesus with others: Becky Lui with Tara Sing (far left), some of the first people she coached (left) and with students at Robert Menzies College.
SouthernCross June–July 2023 21

You can’t be yourself by yourself

Men and women cannot be fully themselves without one another.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my alone time. I am “me” when I’m by myself. But Genesis 1:27 complicates my idea of myself by saying that God created humankind in his image, as male and female. Somehow, by myself I’m not enough. It takes both men and women to fully express the divine image.

This turns out to be a hugely important truth not just for my self-understanding, but for our relating as men and women in the church (note: this is not an article about marriage!) The foundational text comes in Genesis 2:

Then the Lord God built the rib he had taken out of the man into a woman, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman’, for out of man was this one taken.”

That is why a man forsakes his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

(Genesis 2:22–24, my translation)

Before this, God had been forming animals out of clay and bringing them to the man. The man was learning that, even surrounded by all the animals, he was still alone. And so God puts the man to sleep and does something completely new. He does not form another creature from clay; he “builds” a woman from the man’s flesh. She is like him: human. Before she was made, the man was complete. But to build her, God removed a part of the man, and he is no longer complete. He and the woman must reunite to become whole again. So basic is this reunion that Genesis 1:27 speaks of humankind in God’s image as “male and female”.

This explains the “one flesh” reunion that is marriage. Marriage

22 SouthernCross June–July 2023

is relevant because Gen 1:28 has commanded us to “increase in number”. And yet Genesis 2 does not mention children. “One flesh” simply points back to what God did to the man and shows him made whole again. Marriage is a unique way of achieving this wholeness, but the text does not present it as the only or even the best way.

So, if not sex or children, what is it that makes this rejoining so special? Let’s return to the man’s speech. It’s poetry, elevated and emotional. Three times he says, “this one”, as if his words are directed to God but his eyes are fixed on her. He is captivated. He has just named the animals, so when he says, “at last” he means, “a creature like me!”. He is looking at an other, but he sees himself looking back. She is a mirror of his heart, and by looking at her he learns who he is.

God did not bring her to him so he could name her. “She shall be called” is an act of recognition. He recognises her because her name, her identity, is his, too. And so he “forsakes” and “clings” (very strong words). The strength of this attraction is not sex, or her potential as a wife. It is herself as woman, her bone-and-flesh relationship to him, that stirs him to poetry – not her beauty or her fertility. Each of them is a full human being, but they must come together to know themselves and to be themselves.

Without him she can begin nothing; without her he can finish nothing. Together, it is “good” in a way it never could have been when the man was alone (Gen 2:18) . There is a “we” at last, and God is no longer the only one who can say, “Let us make”.

What does this mean for us, especially if we’re not married?

MALENESS AND FEMALENESS ARE CREATIONAL GIFTS

Let’s begin with spiritual gifts. The Spirit gives gifts to every Christian (1 Corinthians 12). A gift is something you are given that others are not given. You receive it so that you will have something to give others, something they would not otherwise have. This enables you to give yourself in love to build others up. The love that consists in mutual giving and receiving is a love that characterises the union of God himself as Father, Son and Spirit (1 Cor 12:4-6).

Gender as a creational gift has the same purpose. God makes men and women different from one another so that they can love one another out of that difference. Femaleness is a gift by which a woman can show a man the world through her eyes, let him see himself and God through her eyes, and help him become a whole person through the insight her eyes provide. It’s a creational gift because she was made that way. Femaleness is something a female possesses by nature; it is not a set of behaviours she must learn. Societies create sets of traits labelled “femininity”, that many females look at only to say, “That’s not me”. The same goes for maleness and “masculinity”.

Not that maleness and femaleness are interchangeable! Beyond the obvious reproductive differences, we possess many sex-typical traits, most of which reflect the effects of sexual hormones on physical and mental development. But these traits are not the measure of a man or a woman – it’s the other way round. When a woman is strong, or a leader, or a protector, that does not make her masculine. Because she is a woman, she cannot help but do all those things as a woman, as expressions of her femaleness. In the same way, when a man is gentle (it’s a fruit of the Spirit!), nurturing, or emotionally expressive, he is giving expression to his maleness whether or not it conforms to popular notions of masculinity.

Of course, we should seek to honour the respective roles given

to men and women in the biological and spiritual family as God’s wisdom for our flourishing. But at the same time the church should be a place where every male and every female can live out their particular maleness and femaleness in self-giving love. These “creational gifts” enrich every relationship, not just marriage.

THE CHURCH IS WHERE MEN AND WOMEN CAN DRAW CLOSE

What God did in Genesis 2 has made us into people who can’t bear being alone. This is not just about marriage. Some people live lives of lonely isolation within their marriages, while many unmarried people share relationships that fulfil their need not to be alone. But Genesis 2 suggests that, whether married or single, we are truly being ourselves when we enjoy a deep communion with the opposite sex.

This is a challenging idea, because most of us wrestle with wrongly directed desires, and are rightly concerned to flee sexual temptation. However, the church is the one place where it should be safe for men and women to join together in mutual enrichment. The church is something quite new:

• The biological family is the foundational institution of human society; but Christ’s church is a new type of family. Jesus said that anyone who loses a biological family for his sake will receive in this age a hundred times as many brothers, sisters, mothers and children (Mark 10:29-30; cf. Acts 4:32-35).

• Marriage involves sexual union; but Christ’s church is a new type of union. In Eph 5:31-32, the “profound mystery” of Genesis 2 is that the one-flesh union of man and wife is an image of Christ and the church. The church’s one-flesh union joins every male and female saint into one, whole, body with Christ as its head (Eph 4:15-16).

• In this life our maleness and femaleness is unavoidably sexual;

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SPEAKER ED LOANE
CHRISTIANITY

but in Christ’s church there is a new type of male and female, defined not by what we are but by what we shall be. Christ was raised bodily, as a man, and we, too, will be raised as male and female. But we will not experience sexual desire, because “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage” (Matt 22:30). Sex is a gift for enriching marriage, but the ultimate purpose for sexual desire is procreation and, in the world to come where there will be no death, there will be no birth either.

So, although we still live in sexually desiring bodies, in Christ our maleness and femaleness is no longer defined by those desires.

In short, the Christian family should be a place where we seek out godly and loving ways to come together, non-sexually, as male and female, that we may display Christ’s perfect humanity to the glory of God.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

These truths about our humanity touch almost every part of our life together. For a start, let’s discuss how to raise boys and girls who do not need to measure their maleness and femaleness against a set of stereotypes; how to create more-than-nuclear families that embrace every member of the body; how to draw women and men together in contexts where our misdirected desires can be governed, rather than segregating ourselves lest we sin.

But I want to pick another “how to” as my closing example, because it involves all of the above: how to join with our brothers whose sexual desires are not for women and our sisters whose sexual desires are not for men.

The path of faithfulness for these dear sisters and brothers is one of unfulfilled desires and much suffering. The church has too often failed to be the family that it needs to be for these saints, a family whose embrace feels like a hundred mothers and brothers and sisters and children. Even worse, we have compounded their suffering by viewing their humanity through the lens of their desires, even though Christ has redeemed their humanity just as he has redeemed ours.

What if we remembered that sexual desire is temporary, but maleness and femaleness are forever, and asked what gifts these our brothers and sisters might have to share out of the way they are created and constituted as men and women, quite apart from sexual desire? Gifts of seeing the world, gifts of creating community, gifts of empathy and compassion born from the hardships they have borne.

God calls people to himself whose sexual orientation is different from mine but, like me, their sexual desires do not define their maleness and femaleness in Christ. I need them to help me see myself and my God more truly. We need them to help us become more like our Saviour, the truest of humans.

In the body of Christ, it takes all of us to be ourselves. SC

The Rev Dr Andrew Shead is head of Old Testament and Hebrew at Moore Theological College.

Relearn the art of giving thanks

Gary O’Brien

Think of the last time you prayed. How did you begin your prayer? After acknowledging the Lord, did you say “Please…” or did you say “Thank you…”?

I have been struck recently by how my prayers nearly always begin with “Please”. That is, I move directly to my requests.

Now, my requests are not bad – I’m not praying for a Lamborghini or destruction upon someone who offended me. I am usually praying for good things, like people coming to faith or enduring through difficult times. However, what is the implication of always beginning my prayers with requests or, often, only making requests in prayer?

I think it’s that we miss seeing what God is already doing in our lives.

What’s more, we miss the encouragement of noticing what he is doing. Instead, we are driven by the burden of what we long to see God do. We are focused on the dissatisfaction of what is true now, longing and praying that the Lord will act and make things better (someone coming to faith, healing from a sickness or coming through a season of trial).

Of course, it’s not wrong to bring our requests as we experience burdens for others or ourselves, but don’t miss the encouragement of what God is already doing!

For example, maybe there is a small change in the circumstances you are praying for. Thank God for that. Something

24 SouthernCross June–July 2023

is happening! Maybe it’s a movement in a different direction and you realise it’s not what you were asking for, but this is God’s doing instead. Thank him that he knows best.

Maybe nothing you have asked for is happening yet but you see growth in the person you are praying for. Thank him. Finally, maybe nothing is happening yet in the situation at all, but there are so many other things going on in your life that are signs of God’s grace to you. Pause and reflect on them and then thank him for his work in your life and circumstances in so many ways.

I was leading a Bible study recently at one of our assistant minister training days, looking at 2 Thessalonians 1. I was struck again by how the apostle Paul almost always begins his letters with a thanksgiving to God. So, we read:

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4)

Paul is looking for God’s hand at work and, when he sees it, he thanks God. In fact, I think he is always looking for God’s hand at work in the churches he writes to.

Notice he is not thanking the Thessalonians but rather God –their perseverance and faith is because God is at work! This is an encouragement to Paul but also to those Thessalonian Christians

receiving this letter: “Yes, God is at work among us, even in the midst of persecution and trials!”

We notice that now the requests to God come, for later in this chapter he writes:

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

Paul’s burden for the future is in the context of the encouragement of what God is already doing and for that he thanks God.

I was saying to our assistant ministers the other day that all ministry is hard. There are things we long to see happen, but if that is all we see (and pray for) it’s a very heavy burden. Instead, we need to balance that with the reality that God’s hand is already at work. Let’s look for that and experience the encouragement that awareness brings – and thank him!

So, when you pray later today or in the morning, why not begin with, “Thank you, Lord, for…”. SC

The Rev Gary O’Brien is the director of Ministry Training & Development.
Prayer, burdens and encouragement. SouthernCross June–July 2023 25

Be encouraged –God is at work!

Irecently preached at a church from Luke 15 about the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son and the lost brother – a great chapter of the Bible for you to read and reread. It’s one of the great joys of my role with Evangelism and New Churches (ENC) that I get to speak at many churches in this way. I invited people to come back home to God, made possible through Jesus; to be found by our loving God, who has not given up on searching for them no matter how far away from him they may feel.

In Luke 15:10 Jesus says, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents”. What joy there was on that Sunday as seven people became Christians. Seven people who were, as Luke 15 says, lost but now found, and dead but now alive. Seven people who have been transformed by God. No wonder heaven rejoices over even one sinner who repents!

Be encouraged – God is at work, bringing lost people to himself. It is happening in many churches all over the Sydney Diocese and beyond as Christians pray for those who aren’t yet Christian; as

they invite people to come to church with them; as they share with people about the difference Jesus has made to their lives; and as faithful churches keep preaching the good news of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday and at special outreach evangelistic events, inviting people to become Christians. Heaven is rejoicing every day!

Last week I met with a group of ministers to talk about evangelism. It was so encouraging to hear about what churches are doing to bring the good news of Jesus to their community. One church had already seen 20 people become Christians this year! How wonderfully encouraging that is. Twenty people transformed by God and brought from death to life, from being lost to being found.

At another church I have been visiting in the past few weeks, people have been actively involved in reaching out and connecting with their local community, resulting in many conversations about Jesus and people looking to discover more about what it means to become a Christian and to follow Jesus.

26 SouthernCross June–July 2023

Mrs Rosemary Bradford died on May 4, 2023 aged 73.

Born Rosemary Anne Shellard on February 5, 1950 in Sydney, her parents became CMS missionaries and moved the family to Tanzania when she was three. Young Rosemary would attend school in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Kenya before undertaking her final year in Sydney after the family returned home. She would also, from her childhood in Africa, be exposed to a debilitating parasite that would affect her health for the rest of her life.

She married Philip Bradford in 1971 and, some years later, encouraged him to train for fulltime ministry. While he studied at Moore College in the mid1980s, they became members of the Wednesday healing service at St Andrew’s Cathedral –continuing to attend after Mr Bradford was ordained and they were in ministry elsewhere in Sydney.

The leader of the Cathedral’s healing ministry, family friend and Sub-Dean the Rev Canon Chris Allan, said of Mrs Bradford: “You would never have known that she was sick. Her maturity and her servantheartedness were incredible.

“The week before she died, she attended two prayer meetings, the healing service, organised the prayer list for the healing service, followed people up, went to someone’s funeral... she

just had this motor that was in fifth gear all the time, and it was a spiritual motor.”

Her funeral last month filled the Cathedral to the brim with those whose lives she had touched.

In his eulogy, Mrs Bradford’s son Andrew said, “Mum’s life story isn’t one of struggling against the odds – a struggle against her misbehaving body. And Mum’s story isn’t one of her being irrepressible – although she certainly was. Mum’s story isn’t really a story at all, because Mum’s story is instead a song of praise.

“The healing service was and is a place where people who are facing difficult struggles can come and find welcome and Mum was good at that kind of welcome. She listened, she talked, and she prayed with people, and always with cheerfulness – never wallowing in the struggle or feigning sombre concern. She knew that God loved us and that he offers hope and healing.”

In his sermon, Canon Allan recalled that, throughout COVID

People around us are hungry to hear about Jesus – whether they know it yet or not.

We can easily become discouraged as we listen to the media and social media and think that those who aren’t yet Christian don’t want to hear about Jesus and don’t want to be invited to church. But this is not the case. Of course, there will always be people who will reject Jesus and reject our invitations to find out more about him. But every day people are becoming Christians. Lives are being transformed by God every day. God is at work.

Our world is lost and in darkness and needs Jesus. Our God is a loving God who doesn’t give up on people and doesn’t give up searching for people to bring them home to him. He is a searching God, passionate to see lost people found, and is at work in our world, bringing lost people to himself.

lockdowns, “Every week in this empty cavernous space she and Philip were here, praying on camera for the over 1000 people who watched our online services – her voice soothing in its nature, firm in its confidence, compassionate as one who knew Jesus’ love. I learnt quickly that people joined us around the world to hear and pray with Rosemary and to let her minister to them.”

He added that, “If you knew Rosemary only in passing, only through seeing her praying on the screen, you missed out on one of the real great ones. But, of course, it all pales when you consider who and what motivated Rosemary, and that was her precious Saviour... Rosemary was certain of where she was going, who was calling her home and who would be there to welcome her.”

Philip Bradford summed it up in his own eulogy by adapting the final line of The Pilgrim ’s Progress, saying: “So she passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for her on the other side”.

The Rev Barry Schofield died on April 20, aged 94.

Born John Barry Schofield on April 8, 1929, he grew up in the northwestern suburbs of Sydney and attended Parramatta High School. After graduating in 1945, he began a science degree at the University of Sydney.

At Mr Schofield’s funeral, his daughter Lois Cooper-White said that a particular Bible talk amid her father’s social church activities changed his life, creating “a heartfelt zeal to follow Jesus”. This overcame his interest in science and geology, and he deferred his university degree in order to study for the ministry at Moore College.

Upon completing his theological studies Mr Schofield set aside his interest in ministry with Bush Church Aid to marry Shirley George in early 1952 –although he later undertook BCA locums in Coober Pedy and the Diocese of North West Australia.

Ordained in 1953, Mr Schofield became curate at St Luke’s, Liverpool, taking on the provisional district of Hammondville and Moorebank

So I want to encourage you: do not give up, just as our God does not give up. Keep praying. Keep inviting. Keep sharing Jesus. Prayerfully look for opportunities to speak of the hope that he brings. Of the joy and peace you have in knowing that you are forgiven, that nothing will separate you from his love, and that they, too, can know this for themselves. Offer to read one of the gospels with them. And invite them to take the step of putting their faith and trust in him.

Be encouraged – God is at work, bringing lost people to himself. Let that knowledge spur you on to bring lost people to him. SC

VALE
The Rev John Lavender is an evangelism consultant at Evangelism and New Churches.
SouthernCross June–July 2023 27

the following year. In 1956 he became rector of the parish of Picton – which at the time included eight branch churches scattered between Campbelltown and the Southern Highlands – and remained there for 44 years, until his retirement in 2000.

Said Mrs Cooper-White: “Dad was energetic and inventive with his church work. He began annual week-long missionary conventions in the Agricultural Hall that took a team to produce and drew crowds from Sydney as well as locally.

“He organised camps, taught primary SRE weekly, high school SRE seminars monthly, co-ordinated working bees on all the church properties, held combined parish services to bring the congregations together, performed hundreds of weddings and funerals without charge and counselled scores of people.

“He was well known locally for the old black-and-white Leyland double-decker bus St Mark’s, Picton purchased from the NSW Government and used strategically in a variety of church and outreach activities.”

She added that her father knew with certainty that his body was “just a disposable tent for his life here on Earth and that physical death would free him to a fresh new life for eternity in God’s presence.

“He also knew that our eternal destination can’t be earnt and has nothing to do with good

works, a good life, going to church or being a nice person but rather on that one question God is going to ask us all: ‘What did you do about my Son Jesus?’”

Mr Schofield also wrote a paraphrase of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “Requiem” to be read at his funeral:

Under a wide and starry sky

Dump my bones and let them lie

These are the lines to pen for me

He’s gone off to Eternity.

Home is the preacher, home from the herd

And the teacher is home with the Word.

CLERGY MOVES

The acting rector of Yagoona, the Rev Cam Phong, was inducted as rector of the parish on May 1.

The Rev Christopher Waterhouse will become rector of St James’, King Street on June 20, moving from a role as Precentor and chaplain for the arts at St David’s Cathedral, Hobart. He is also a previous director of the St James’ Institute.

Following 5½ years in Melbourne as an assistant minister at St Jude’s, Carlton, the Rev Alex Zunica begins a new role in the Sydney Diocese on July 17 as rector of St Mark’s, West Wollongong

After 15 years as rector of Belmore with McCallums Hill and Clemton Park, the Rev David Wallace will retire on August 6.

VACANT PARISHES

List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at June 13, 2023:

The Reluctant Missionary

We got the old tub all shipshape and ready for the sea, with everything as tidy as it could ever be. For we was off to Tarsus for business and for trade to bring back things as pretty as they were ever made. But just before we cast ’er off and took ’er out to sea, a bloke came running up to us, as anxious as could be. ’is brow was creased with worry – ’e was a scary bloke –if life is full of fun then ’ed have never seen the joke!

“Where to, old mate?” we said, when ’e ’ad paid ’is fare, “So long as it’s not Nineveh, just take me anywhere.”

We’d ’ardly got in motion when a storm whipped up the seas and we were all so panicked that it drove us to our knees. Us blokes are not that pious but when you are in trouble, you start to call upon the gods and do it at the double. The skipper went to Gloomy Joe and roused ’im from ’is sleep. “You better call on your god, too, or we’ll be in the deep!

“Perhaps it’s you that’s in the wrong and windin’ up this storm You’d better say, then, if it is, ‘cos things are gettin’ warm.”

“O yes, it’s me alright,” Joe said, “I am the proper cause. I’m running off from God, you see, and breakin’ ’oly laws. He wants me off in Nineveh to preach to evil men and I’m afraid they’ll listen and they’ll turn to ’im again. For ’e is full of mercy and is bound to let ’em go and I will sit there fumin’ ’cos that isn’t right, yer know.

“I think that such a rotten lot should absolutely cop it, not turn to God, ’cos when they do, then every time he’ll stop it.” Us sailor boys was really scared – our tough and godless crew –but we was at a loss just then at what we ought to do and how to save ourselves, well now, we simply couldn’t think. But Gloomy Joe spoke up and said, “Just throw me in the drink!” Now that’s a thing we’ve never done and don’t intend to start, to drown a bloke like that – well now, you’d need a stony ’eart.

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But Gloomy Joe insisted that it wasn’t just ’is notion, so in ’e went, ’ead over ’eels into the stormy ocean. And as we watched ’im go, well, quick as you might wish ’e disappeared into the mouth of this great monstrous fish! Then, as Joe said, the sea grew still – a mighty, blissful calm –and we old salts gave praise to God for savin’ us from ’arm. Well, years went by and then, one day, it was a great surprise, I saw in town that same old Joe – could not believe me eyes! I said to ’im, “How come you’re ’ere? You was a fish’s tucker!” “Indeed I was,” he said to me. “I felt a proper sucker. But that great beast transported me and didn’t ’urt a ’air – got me all the way to Nineveh and didn’t charge a fare.

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“I preached to that most awful crowd and they put evil down – but I had hoped that God would roar and spiflicate their town, so I just grumped and sat aside; I was a lump of lard till God spoke up and said to me, ‘O Joe, you’re pretty ’ard! just think of them poor souls back there who do not know what’s true.

Why should I not show mercy – just as I have done with you?’”

POEM
28 SouthernCross June–July 2023

Play and praise

Judy Adamson

Red, White and Brass

Rated PG

It’s unusual to go to a film premiere and have someone onstage say “Let us pray” – to applause from the audience! –but that’s what happened at the Sydney premiere of Red, White and Brass earlier this month at the Sydney Film Festival. For the next 90 minutes, the State Theatre became an outpost of Tongan cultural pride, faith and joy, and we were all feeling the māfana (see the film and you’ll know what I mean).

Red, White and Brass tells the story of possibly the most unlikely marching band ever, created in New Zealand in the lead-up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. As the film itself says, “Straight up, this actually happened”.

What also happened is that most of those involved were members of Wellington’s Wesleyan Tongan congregation, so viewers get to see everyday people of faith in a modern movie depicted with humour and love, and it’s just gold.

Co-writer Halaifonua Finau was a central figure in the original story, and is recreated here as Maka, a brash young guy who is desperate to go to the Tonga v France World Cup match but can’t get tickets. So, he hatches a plan to form a marching band with his Tongan churchmates in order to get a gig as pre-match entertainment and see the game that way. The only problem is they can’t play the instruments, and there’s only six weeks until the game.

Crazy? Just a little bit.

The best part is, the group’s determination to see the game morphs into a desire to represent the Tongan community with pride in their culture. Even though Maka, the son of the church’s minister, is pretty self-focused and not good at pitching in, his great plan won’t work unless everyone thinks and works together – including him.

The band is a mess and they’re using plastic bottles to practice their embouchures, but God will provide, Maka says. Amazingly, he does – and a few mildly miraculous things happen along the way as we’re taken along for a hilarious and joyous ride.

Halaifonua Finau’s real-life pastor father and his mother appear as Maka’s parents, and they’re natural performers: funny and faithful, impatient and godly, sometimes all at once. The mainly Tongan cast wholeheartedly shares their story and their life with us, and in watching we become part of this community, wrapped up in a huge cultural embrace.

To say more would be to give away too much, but the fact that a film has been made of this journey should give you a clue as to how things play out. To watch the band sing Jesus’ praises in Tongan before they go out and perform is worth the price of admission alone.

To put it simply, Red, White and Brass provides old-school entertainment that is heartfelt, uncomplicated and a ripping good time. You’ll love it. SC

Film review. SouthernCross June–July 2023 29

Celebrating 25 years of Colin’s music

Where were you when you first heard one of Colin Buchanan’s songs for kids?

It’s been 25 years since Buchanan released his album Remember the Lord, famous for songs like “Isaiah 53:6”, “The Old Black Crow” and “Remember the Lord”.

In that time, God has worked powerfully through him to shape the faith of not just a generation of children, but their parents and grandparents, too. To celebrate, Buchanan took his show on the road, visiting Jamberoo, St Andrew’s Cathedral, Quakers Hill, St Ives and many more churches along the east coast.

Buchanan has released more than 25 Christian children’s albums since 1998, has over 43,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and has turned at least 80 Bible verses into songs we can’t get out of our heads. Baa baa doo baa baa!

JESUS IS THE HERO

Colin at Jamberoo
SAVIOUR
SUPER
jamberoo photos: Marina Rysko
30 SouthernCross June–July 2023

from page 32

on May 24, when it was revealed Wallace tapped out on Day 30.

The show features his efforts to get food by trapping possums and fishing, to no avail.

“Someone at church was telling me on Sunday… ‘We’re praying, Michael, that you stay dry’,” he told sydneyanglicans.net. “‘We’re praying, Michael, for this and that. Oh, we forgot to pray that you had food, but God answers our prayers’. I prayed for food out there too, and I didn’t get any, but it’s really our needs that are important.”

In an interview in a bush setting far more hospitable than the one he faced in Tasmania, Wallace commented that he was “out there for a good length of time [but] my wife needed me at home and I needed to see my wife and be put back in society with my family.”

He’s grateful for the prayer support that he and his wife received from their church, and also spoke of his hopes for Christian witness during the show. Despite being alone, he preached himself a sermon each week.

“People said, ‘Did you have more than one hot rock bath?’” he says. “Hot rock bath day was every Sunday and sermon day was every Sunday.”

His sermons included one themed on a Colin Buchanan song and another on “Amazing Grace”.

“So you got to see me sing ‘Amazing Grace’, but we didn’t hear what grace was all about, really,” he says. “I used the acronym ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense’, which is a nice easy way to say what grace is. It didn’t make the cut but the crew got to hear it.”

Viewers saw Wallace struggling with energy levels from lack of food, as he had plants but no protein. He laughs now at some of the social media coverage from having a Christian on the show.

“One of the comments on social media was, they had a bingo box of, you know, tick what’s gonna happen,” he says. “This person finds that, this person does that and Michael prays. Well, the people who know me know that prayer is important, but they can have a conversation with me without praying.”

Asked whether he had learned anything about his relationship with God from being in the wilderness, Wallace says that time alone in the bush is not new to him, as he spends up to six hours a day on his own in bush regeneration.

But he is praying for God to use his witness on the show to touch viewers.

“I’d like them to see that there’s resilience, that I relied on God, that God’s important to me, and that I’m not ashamed of being focused on as a Christian, being spotlighted as that,” he says.

“I just hope it’s an encouragement to others to say, ‘Yes, I’m a Christian’ and not be ashamed.” SC

You can view Alone Australia at SBS On Demand: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/tv-series/alone-australia THEN COLIN & NUDGE NOW
Colin at St Andrew’s Cathedral cathedral photos: David Wilmshurst
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Eloise & Colin at Christ Church, St Ives

Meet the “Alone” contestant who is never alone

Michael Wallace almost didn’t make it onto the SBS show Alone. The overseas smash-hit TV series, which came to Australia this year, features 10 contestants dropped into the Tasmanian wilderness to see who lasts longest without being medically evacuated or tapping out.

Wallace, described on the show as a 43-year-old veterinarian and bush regenerator, is also a member of Narellan Anglican Church.

He was called up as a reserve after another contestant dropped out when the series was made last winter. It finished airing on SBS

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